CEO Letter - 10.25.19

by Jenn Ross

There are seemingly endless problems to solve in our community and the world. It feels less hopeless when there are strong partnerships.


JFS’s Executive Director Barry Stein and I have been talking at length about ways to help deal with those struggling directly or indirectly with mental health challenges and/or the opioid epidemic and our two agencies have offered a number of programs, often collaboratively, over the past several years.


Myra Sacks told us this summer about an amazing free program called Drugs 101: What Parents and Kids Need to Know and we are hosting it at the JCC on November 4. You merely need to register at  This program is open to the entire community and I’ve shared it with numerous contacts at local churches and mosques as well as with our membership, synagogues, and partner agencies. Please encourage people to attend to help prevent needless tragedy.


The opioid epidemic was the focus of last year’s Cardozo/Maimonides panel discussion and this informational session is another resource we are offering in response to this challenge. This year’s Cardozo/Maimonides program will focus on Challenges in Patient Decision-Making, something many of us struggle with whether we have aging parents or spouses, or children or other family members with intellectual disabilities.  When those we love struggle with competency and/or the capacity to make the decision for their medical care, how can we best help them?  This program is for medical and legal professionals and also for any individuals who are faced with these dilemmas. Please save the date December 11.


One of the ways I have refilled my cup is by participating in wonderful interfaith programs in our community.  I am deeply humbled this year as I have been invited to provide the keynote speech at this year’s Interreligious Forum Thanksgiving Eve Service.  It will be held at 7pm on November 27 at St. Andrew’s in the Valley Episcopal Church at 4620 Linglestown Road in Harrisburg. 


I haven’t written my entire speech yet, but its theme is similar to this column—that if we approach things individually, the world can seem challenging, but when we work together with our friends and neighbors, there is hope and joy because we have at least built community.  I also see this same beauty in the friendships each day at the J, and it is these relationships that keep me focused on the mission of our organization even on my most challenging days.  Thank you for being part of our JCC family.


As always, please reach out to me with your thoughts, hopes, and ideas at 717-236-9555 x3104 or